I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Outdoor Academy this year. This year was set in beautiful Swedish Lapland and the focus was on hiking, so I was very happy to be invited to such an event. The Outdoor Academy is a collaboration between Swedish tourist boards and the Scandinavian Outdoor Group to showcase an area of Sweden and all the brilliant things it has to offer whilst promoting Scandinavian outdoor equipment.
Invited on the academy were tour operators, retailers and journalists from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland and the UK with an interest in promoting Sweden. We all arrived into Kiruna airport and one of the first questions was “where’s Elky?” Thank goodness I remembered to bring him! Welcomed by our hosts and introduced to our guides, we were given a selection of equipment to use throughout our hike. It felt like Christmas had arrived early, I was just wondering how I was going to fit it all in my new backpack, let alone carry it up a mountain! Elky was greeted by old friends at a dinner of arctic char and reindeer heart to fuelled us up to begin our journey in the morning.
We started our hike, which would ascent 800m to Låktajåkka mountain station, early in the morning. The views becoming more and more spectacular the further we climbed. The autumn in Lapland is wonderfully colourful and the floor was awash with wild blueberries, we even found some cloudberries. We stopped for a lunch of dried food, which started of looking unappealing but once we added our hot water it magically formed into a beef casserole! I was appreciative of the warm woolly base layers by this point and felt toasty as long as I kept moving.
Warmly greeted at the mountain cabin, we rested our weary legs by the fire and were given waffles and a selection of toppings to try. The mountain station is famous for its waffles and I would thoroughly recommend them with cloudberry jam and cream. Although we were staying at the cabins, we tested out our equipment and cooked our dinner outside on our Trangia. The weather had taken a turn for the worst so we were allowed to eat it inside in the warm and the lovely guides offered to cook our pudding for us instead of sending us back outside, which was greeted with a cheer! The evening included a whisky tasting session of Swedish whisky, as I don’t drink whisky I gave mine to our brilliant Sami photographer and I’m told it was very nice. After being warmed up by the whisky, we were given a tutorial for night photography, the aim originally to take northern lights photos but as it was cloudy, we wouldn’t see them tonight so our tutor talked us through the best way to take night photos.
I woke up to snow the next day, which also happened to be my birthday so being born in September this was a first for me. Sofia at the Nature Travels office had kindly mentioned to the organisers it was a special day and when I went downstairs for breakfast, suddenly everyone started singing and I was presented with a cake and sparkler. Took me a while to work out what was going on but I eventually twigged they were singing to me! Rör ihop kaka, roughly translates as “stir together cake” and comes in any flavour you fancy but this morning I was enjoying chocolate cake for breakfast.
We headed out for our second day of hiking, it was still snowing and the landscape we were walking through was a striking monochrome. We were going downhill today and the further we descended the more colourful the landscape became, like falling into Munchkinland on the Wizard of Oz. Rainbows started popping up around us as we arrived at Karsavagge mountain station, where we would be pitching our tent for the night. After picking our spot, we pitched our tents and then had a lesson in how to lasso a reindeer. I was useless and nearly ended up lassoing my fellow participants instead of the antlers that were right in front of me! We cooked reindeer burgers over an open fire and then cooked the rest of our dinner using our trusty Trangias. During dinner I was serenaded with more birthday songs in German, Swedish, Dutch and Sami. Then a couple of Sami coffee sellers joined us and told us tall tales of how they make their lemming coffee. Early to bed as we have an early start and a long distance to hike in a short period of time to get to Abisko.
Woken up by a very cheerful guide at 6am, we had our muesli and then it was time to pack up. We start our 13km hike over relatively flat land, through a valley to get to Abisko by midday. Abisko mountain station is the location of the start of some of our summer hikes and winter ski touring. The weather was perfect today to enjoy the stunning scenery and we walked through a valley and then through forest to reach our destination at the gateway to Lapland. Once at Abisko mountain station, the girls jumped straight in the showers whilst the boys prioritised food.
The evening was spent sampling the wonderful food Abisko mountain station has to offer and we were all presented with a certification of completion, including Elky, who now has three! In the morning after a hearty buffet breakfast we were transferred to Kiruna airport, then we all went said our fond farewells from Stockholm, already missing the magnificent mountains of Swedish Lapland. Many thanks to all those involved in organising the Outdoor Academy in Sweden.
Niki & Elky
Nature Travels offers many tours in Swedish Lapland. Our winter adventures start from around mid-November ending late April and include Dog Sledding, Ski Touring and Winter Accommodation. For summer we also have Guided and Self-guided Hiking and Guided Canoeing.